Type 1 diabetes

Heads Up campaign to challenge diabetes blame and shame


Diabetes Australia has launched a major media campaign to highlight the widespread community misunderstanding and stigma about diabetes.

The Heads Up campaign, which will be featured across digital channels, television and social media, aims to tackle the stigmatisation is driving high rates of mental health problems for people living with diabetes.

It also aims to challenge the widespread belief that diabetes is simply a lifestyle condition caused by being overweight and having a diet high in sugar.

According to Diabetes Australia, up to 80% of people with diabetes report feeling blamed or shamed for living with the condition, and more than 25% say other people’s attitudes and stereotypes about diabetes are negatively impacting their mental health.

Some of the misunderstandings about diabetes uncovered by a Diabetes Australia survey include:

  • As many as 85% of people in the community believe people with diabetes shouldn’t eat sugary foods or drinks
  • 52% of people with type 2 diabetes say people assume they are overweight or have been in the past
  • 26% of people with type 2 diabetes have been told they brought it on themselves
  • 31% don’t tell other people they have type 1 diabetes, to avoid negative reactions

Foundation Director of the Australian Centre for Behavioural Research in Diabetes, Professor Jane Speight said diabetes stigma has major implications for how people manage their condition.

“Diabetes is not a joke, and stigma is more than just hurtful words and actions. It can have a significant impact on a person’s physical, mental and social well-being,” Professor Speight said.

“It can cause people to delay or skip medications, which can increase their risk of serious diabetes-related complications. It also affects their willingness to seek help and support from others, including from health professionals.”

The campaign, launched as part of National Diabetes Week (11 – 17 July) will challenge the public with statements such as: “Would you mind being shamed for a condition anyone could develop?” and “Would you mind being blamed for a condition nobody chooses?”

The adverts can be seen here and here.

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